Besides injuries & old age, excess weight is the number one contributor to K9 arthritis and joint pain because it causes inflammation and stiffness in a dog’s joints by putting more strain on them.
According to the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), more than 50% of all dogs in the US are overweight (52.7% in 2014, 54% in 2015 – that’s an INCREASE).
That’s every other dog. E V E R Y O T H E R D O G.
Pretty scary, if you ask me.
How To Minimize The Risk For Joint Pain
1. Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight
Daily exercise is key in keeping our pups at their ideal weight. Need some ideas on how to work out your pooch? Find some inspiration in my Best Of K9 Fitness 2015 compilation.
Please know that exercise for an arthritic dog should be low-impact to reduce stress on her joints, meaning activities such as swimming & slow walks are a better option than agility & running.
2. Supplement Your Dog’s Healthy Diet With Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Glucosamine & Chondroitin are natural substances essential to joint health and keeping our pups mobile. There are actually quite a few supplements on the market that contain glucosamine & chondroitin; however, the vast majority of them were put together in a laboratory and not taken from Mother Earth.
Whenever I have the choice between a chemical substance with potential side effects and its naturally occurring, safe counterpart, I’ll opt for the latter. Glucosamine & Chondroitin both occur naturally in Green Lipped Mussels as well as in Duck Feet & Chicken Feet, which is why I supplement Missy’s & Buzz’s raw diet with them. #NoBrainer.
Sidenote: Neither Missy nor Buzz suffer from joint pain, and in order to keep it that way I watch their weight like a hawk and opt for Glucosamine & Chondroitin supplementation as a preventative measure.
Green Lipped Mussels
Green Lipped Mussels are green-hued and are only found on the coast of New Zealand. They are one of the best, naturally occurring, sources of omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins and minerals.
I first heard of Green Lipped Mussels when feeding Ziwipeak, an air-dried food from New Zealand, which lists the mussels amongst their ingredients.
I then came across them again when fellow raw feeder Kimberly Gauthier mentioned treating her pack with single-ingredient treats from Boo Boo’s Best (Mighty Mussels) containing nothing but dehydrated, Green Lipped Mussels on her blog KeepTheTailWagging.com.
I have very much come to appreciate single-ingredient treats over the course of the last year, so I instantly knew I had to get them, but ended up having to wait a few months to place my order because they were out of stock. I set a reminder on my calendar and DID buy a bag when they were available again. Both Missy & Buzz loved them!
Dehydrated Green Lipped "Mighty Mussels" From Boo Boo's Best
Missy & Buzz Loving Their Mighty Mussels
Only side effect: Allergic reaction can occur IF your dog is allergic to shellfish.
How Much Do I Feed My Dog?
According to Boo Boo’s Best, 1/2 to 1 Mussel can be fed on a daily basis (1 Mussel has 11 calories). If Green Lipped Mussels are sprinkled on the dog’s food in powder form, dog nutrition blogger Rodney Habib recommends 15mg of powdered extract per 1 pound of the dog’s body weight.
Duck Feet & Chicken Feet
You probably guessed it by now – duck & chicken feet also contain glucosamine & chondroitin, as well as calcium, therefore supporting & improving joint function.
Dehydrated duck & chicken feet definitely provide a nice crunch factor and have the potential to entertain for quite some time IF you have a moderate chewer. Duck feet are smaller than chicken feet and can keep a smaller dog occupied for quite some time! I’d still always supervise.
Dehydrated Duck & Chicken Feet From Treats Happen
I used to have a subscription for the dehydrated duck feet from Treats Happen (and a few other treats – they have great offers such as Buy 3 bags, Get 1 free), but just started a new subscription from Real Dog Box – I recently reviewed their food subscription box and was blown away by the quality & attention to detail that goes into their product!
I will still buy the dehydrated duck or chicken feet from Treats Happen from time to time, but will also try different brands that offer similar products (Best Bully Sticks sells Dehydrated Duck feet as well).
Missy & Buzz Holding Their "Down-Stay" in Anticipation Of A Duck Foot
Prevention is the name of the game! I personally don’t believe in popping pills IF there’s a natural, non-chemical alternative – neither for my dogs, nor for myself.
I had this wake-up call in late 2014/early 2015 when my pup Missy was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. While she may have been genetically predisposed to this sickness being a Boxer Mix, I am convinced that our lifestyle contributed to this chapter in her life.
For the first 3.5 years of her life, she had been treated with a topical monthly pest-preventative (K9 Advantix), a monthly oral Heartworm preventative (Heartguard), received countless vaccination boosters, and ate highly processed dry & wet dog food, not to mention the fact that her bedding & towels were washed weekly with laundry detergents containing a crap load of chemicals and dried with the addition of dryer sheets also containing chemicals.
Talk about a toxic cocktail!
Once Missy had received her last round of chemotherapy in early 2015, I incorporated major changes to both pups’ lives in hopes of boosting their immune systems, the biggest one certainly being their new raw diet. Both Missy & Buzz do fantastic on it and have never been healthier, their coats never shinier, their teeth never whiter. It’s truly amazing what a change in nutrition can do.
I continue to learn on our journey to great health – one of my latest nuggets being green lipped mussels and duck/chicken feet! Can’t wait to see what I’ll find out next!
Update 2018: I ended up loosing Missy to another cancer diagnosis in April. R.I.P., my little girl.
Now it’s your turn – what’s something new you recently found out about doggie health? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!